Spirited Blog!

Samhain Oak Tree Meditation for Ancestral Connection & Healing

Halloween, or Samhain, is a time of year when the veil between our world and the spirit world is very thin.  It is the perfect time to reach out to our loved ones in spirit and honor our ancestors.  After all, but for them, we would not be here – at least in our present form!  Our life on Earth is built on the love and struggles of all who came before us.  To honor the turning of the wheel today, as the dead walk among us and nature retreats into the recesses of our first ancestor – Mother Earth, I wanted to re-post an article I wrote in 2016 about healing ancestral lines.   

This meditation was given to me during the May 2016 New Moon.  My spirit allies shared with me an easy but powerful way to start the important work of healing from ancestral wounds – also called ancestral karma and lineage issues.  Our energetic field retains the traumas, fears, disappointment, and limiting beliefs inherited from our ancestors.  But it also retains their successes, love, joy and passion.  These memories are stored in our DNA and in the energy of the different family lines that converge in us as a co-creation of a mother and father. 

When we are born into a family line, we become part of the spiritual journey of all who came before us – and they become part of our spiritual journey as well.  Being aware that our ancestors’ fear, trauma and unhealed places are a part of our own story, and affect our own life in subtle or profound ways, provides us with an opportunity to heal our family lines in positive ways. 

What an beautiful gift to our ancestors, ourselves, our children, and our children’s children, to be a force in healing our family of long held wounds and fears.  Small and large steps taken to heal ancestral wound ripples back into the past and forward to the future, healing all within a family line.  You and your descendants will be the immediate heirs of this healing work, stepping into a new era of greater wellness, joy, harmony and opportunity.  

Lineage issues are sometimes hard to identify, especially when healing is most often seen as individual.  But unhealed ancestral wounds may be affecting your life if despite your best efforts to heal from past wounds and fears, you are still unable to grow past old patterns.  It can be very frustrating when you know you have done your part to aware and to take steps to heal from much of your personal pain and fear, only to still be unable to manifest our soul’s vision for a good life.  Ancestral wounds may be a contributing factor, and it is worth exploring this aspect of healing work.  You may find that unsupportive ancestral energies are contributing to an unable to manifest lasting creations in your life, be financially stable, find passion or a healthy relationship, or heal from unhealthy patterns, poor health, and addictive behaviors.  

On the May 2016 New Moon, I was honored to have Spirit give me a sacred oak tree meditation for healing ancestral wounds.  I knew I had ancestral healing work that needed to be explored, but I had no clue where to begin.  I searched online and found many practitioners who were willing do this work for a fee, but I could not find any videos or websites that would teach me how to do this work for myself.  But in the amazing way of Spirit, they soon gave me the keys to my healing and I am now excited to share with you what Spirit freely gave to me.   

The oak tree mediation below can be done at any time.  But during the October month of the dead and the Samhain holiday, you will feel, see, and experience your ancestors’ presence more strongly with the thin veil.  

You may be wondering why the oak tree?  Why not a different tree?  This is because the oak tree is an ancient symbol of ancestry.  The oak tree is a symbol of fertility – of the life and death cycle, birth and disintegration. 

The oak was sacred to the ancient Celtic peoples.  The ancient Celtic word for oak was “duir,” meaning door.  This is because oak trees have always been seen as portals and doorways into the mysteries of the spirit worlds.  During this meditation, the oak tree will open its door to us so that we can enter and learn about our own mysteries and understanding better who we are through where we come from.

When Spirit gave me this meditation, they showed my hands cupped with a single acorn embedded in dark rich soil. The seed began to grow into a tiny sapling, then a larger one, until I had to place the growing tree on the ground. It continued to grow into a majestic ancient oak tree with is roots going deep into the earth and its branches high into the sky. 

An old ornate door appeared on the oak tree. I knew I was meant to open the door and step into it.  In doing so, I was stepping into my family line. It was similar to being in the energetic tunnels that lead to different places in the spirit world, so for me, I did not see much scenery.  For you, it may open to a vast and rich landscape. Be open to the uniqueness of your oak tree journey.

Then a path appeared and I knew I was supposed to literally step back into my family line. With each step I took, I was traveling backwards in time and witnessing older and older generations of ancestors.  It was amazing to see their clothes changed to reflect each time period as I stepped forward.  Some ancestors simple watched me but others handed me gifts. These gifts represented the healing of specific wounds and issues in my family line.

The first gift I received was from my great grandmother Matilda, a stoic hard-working woman from Slovakia who had connected with me many times in spirit. She handed me a beautiful cake. She said it was to remember that “life is sweet” and “to return the sweet life” to me and my family. I had always received messages in intuitive circles not to work so hard and to have more fun.  I was even told, I had the potential to work myself to death. I never connected that pushing myself too hard was a lineage issue.

As I stepped back even further, another woman appeared and handed me an arm full of mushrooms. Mushrooms are my personal symbol for grounding. This made perfect sense because I was born into this world ungrounded and overly open to the spirit world. It was why I grew up with so many uncomfortable spirit encounters. This issue ran down my father’s family line. My ancestor was giving me and my family line back our ability to ground and be fully present in life.

I was deeply touched by the energetic and spiritual “presents” I received and have since felt true shifts in my ability to live in the moment, have fun and enjoy every aspect of life, and be grounded.  But as is the law of sacred reciprocity, I did not only receive but gave to my ancestors during the meditation.  Part of the magic of the oak tree healing meditation was that I also had gifts for my ancestors!

For each ancestor who stepped forward, I hugged them, sent loving energy to them, and thanked them for their life, sacrifices and lessons.  For certain ancestors, a small tree sapling appeared in my hand and I offered it to them.  To my surprise, these spirits almost instantaneously crossed over into the Light and disappeared.  These spirits had been earthbound and embedded in the family line, affecting descendants in unhelpful ways through their unhealed parts.  Sometimes our lineage issues are the result of an unsupportive energy that has gained momentum over the generations, but other times it is in fact earthbound ancestors who exacerbate multi-generational issues. 

 My earthbound ancestors took with them the new sampling, which my spirit allies told me was the gift of a new family tree.  These spirits were onto their next life, and would take with them, all they had contributed and learned from my family line to become a part of another beautiful lineage in the amazing web of all things.  This was a healing for these ancestors who had done their part but now needed to continue on their own journey for their own spiritual growth – and that of the family line.  

Once I felt I had traveled far enough, I turned around, stepped back out of the door, exited my ancestral oak tree and shut the door.  But before doing so, I asked my ancestors what they needed to continue healing and supporting the family line.  My ancestors provided me with clear instructions of what they wanted on my ancestral alter and other steps to take to help heal remaining wounds. 

After all, we cannot heal our entire family line in one meditation!  Our family lines are ancient and we are only called to do our part.  You can always revisit your family tree through doing another oak tree meditation, or simply take time to connect and communicate with your ancestors.  You can also create a place of ancestral honoring in your home with pictures and items from your spirited relatives.  Light a candle or leave a cup of your relative’s favorite coffee or food on your ancestral alter. 

On this special night of Samhain, you can also simply light a candle, open your front door, and invite in your highest intentioned ancestors to commune and help to protect your family and its wellness over the winter months.  Or leave out a ghost plate by setting an extra place at your dinner table tonight, placing food at it, but leave the chair empty to be filled by your ancestors.  This is the ancient practice of “feeding the spirits.”

Lastly, do not try to have your oak tree mediation unfold exactly as mine did but instead give yourself the freedom to have it unfold as it should for you. I am simply providing a basic framework for you to have your own unique oak tree journey.

Steps to Your Own Guided Oak Tree Meditation for Family Line Healing:

  1. Find a quite place and create sacred space in your preferred way.

  2. Center, ground, and invite in your spirit allies.  

  3. Imagine your hands are cupped with fertile soil with an acorn inside of it.

  4. Watch the acorn grow into a sampling and then a tree that you place on the ground before you.

  5. Witness the young tree grow into a majestic, ancient oak tree, representing your family line.

  6. See a door appear, opening it, and step inside your family tree.

  7. Step forward while imaging that with each footstep you are stepping back further in time in your family line;

  8. Be open and see which ancestors appear and pay attention to their cloths for a time period. Make note of the feelings, images, sounds, and knowings and arise in your awareness.

  9. Accepting any spiritual healing in the form of gifts, words or wisdom, symbols, love, or energy offered by your ancestors;

  10. Thank each ancestor for their gifts, love, sacrifices and service to the family line and for their life that lead to your;

  11. Offer an embrace, love, or healing to the ancestors who step forward, and give any gifts that you have for them.

  12. When you feel the journey is coming to an end, ask your ancestors if there is anything they would like from you going forward to continue to develop a strong relationship with them or to heal your family line and lineage. Turn around and step back out through the door and out of your ancestral oak tree. Close the door and return to your mundane life;

  13. Thank the Divine, spirit allies and ancestors for for the experience and messages, insights and gifts received;

  14. Close sacred space.

Feel free to comment on how this lineage healing worked for you and your unique experiences with this powerful family line healing!

Copyright 2021 Vanessa Hanks, All Rights Reserved.

Casting the Clew – Imbolc Nicneven Divination

I have always loved the idea of “casting the clew” (a ball of yarn) for divination. This practice is associated with the Scottish Goddess Nicneven – Queen of the Witches and Faeries. In “The Flytting Betwixt Montgomerie and Polwart,” (1621) it states:

“Then a clear Companie came soon after closs,

Nicneven with her Nymphs, in number anew,

With Charms from Caitness and Chanrie in Ross,

Whose Cunning consists in casting a Clew…”

While there is very little known about Nicneven and the practice of casting the clew, it is believed to be a divinatory practice involving throwing a ball of yarn into a dark room or corner. As you pull the yarn back towards you, the future is gleaned. It is thought that the future would be drawn out of the darkness and revealed. Working with fate has always been associated with threads, string and weaving.

But what does any of this have to do with Imbolc (Feb. 1st – the halfway point between the winter solstice and spring equinox)? Nicneven is believed to ride like a storm with her band of witches, nymphs and faeries, not just around Samhain and Nicneven’s Night, but also between Imbolc and Lent.

This makes sense as some consider her to be the same as Cailleach – the Goddess of winter and weather who sometimes ventures out on Imbolc to gather wood. If the day is sunny and pleasant, Cailleach extends winter to use her firewood. But if the weather is bad, she remains asleep through Imbolc and spring soon arrives. If this reminds you of Groundhog Day on February 2nd – you would be correct! 

Imbolc is the perfect time to try “casting the clew.” This practice can be done literally or in your mind’s eye by sitting in a dark room or facing a dark hallway and throwing the clew (a ball of yarn) into the darkness. As you slowly pull back the ball of yarn with your hands or in your imaginings – see what appears out of the darkness. Before casting, light a candle for Nicneven and set strong intentions for what you are trying to glean. Ask a specific question or set intentions that the images drawn out of darkness reveal what is coming from Imbolc through the spring equinox. Spring is coming!

The Spirit, Spindle & Root

I can’t believe we (hubby and I) have finally found a home for my intuitive practice! It will be called the Spirit, Spindle and Root. Below is a pic of the beautiful 1800s cobblestone building on Spirit Hwy (Route 5 & 20) in West Bloomfield, NY. We are hoping to open in October 2021 with a magical and intuitive shop that offers readings, healings, classes, gifts, antiques and more. I will be posting our journey as we decorate and fill the space to make it our own! Visit my website at vanessahanks.com – its in flux but come visit anyway! It’s a work in progress!

Beltane’s Thin Veil – Understanding the Spirit Year

As we approach the next turning of the wheel on May 1st, I wanted to write an article about Beltane’s thin veil.  When spring arrived, I had a conversation with a few magical practitioners who told me that they could already feel the veil getting thinner.  I was surprised because for me it was growing thicker now that the dark half of the year was in the rear view mirror.  (Note: A “thin veil” is a time when the boundary between the physical world and spirit world is thinner allowing more connection and communication with spirit beings.)

As a psychopomp who heals the dead, the veil is thinnest for me from mid-fall through the darkest night of the year. Samhain (Halloween) and Winter Solstice are known to be two of the thinnest veils, but Beltane is another. 

I was perplexed that I could feel the thinning so intensely during the fall and the start of winter, but not as much during the spring. I knew this was a topic that I needed to explore to deepen my understanding of the spirit year and the difference in the seasonal veils.  I decided to communicate with my guides on this question and the answer they gave me was beautiful and simple.  

But before we get there, let’s first discuss spirits and darkness.  Spirit mediums have long known that the spirits of the dead manifest best in dark conditions.  This is why seance rooms are blacked out with windows and doors often duct taped so that thin slices of light can’t creep in from under a door or from behind a curtain.

Darkness leads to greater spirit activity, and for me as a psychopomp, to more earthbound spirits connecting with me. Therefore, during fall until the Dark Night of the Soul, as nights growing longer and the veil thin for me, I perceive more spirits and have a greater number of spirits connect with me in stronger ways than during the light half of the year.

This is not only true of the spirit year but also the lunar month.  During the dark moon, earthbound spirits are at their strongest and more able to interact with me.  But during spring and summer, as daylight grows, the veil between our world and the dead becomes thicker and I personally become more grounded.  

So why then is Beltane considered one of thinnest veils and how does it differ from the thin veils at Samhain and Yule? Well to start, Beltane is a spring holiday and spring is the time of year when a mass amount of new spirit energy enters our planet. Seedlings are sprouting, flowers are blooming, and birds and animals are bringing new life to Earth.  The world comes alive, and so do we.

For so many spirits to be entering our planet, it requires just as thin of a veil as during the fall – but for a different purpose. The spring spirit energy has a downward and outward motion.  It is powerful for invoking and birthing our intentions from the mental and spiritual realms into the physical world.  It is also an auspicious time for gathering creation/life force energy for the rest of the year.

For this reason, I plan to take time on Beltane to invoke and bring into this world the things that I have been seeking and are most in alignment with my soul. I also plan to harness the energy of this holiday for the dark half of the year to restock my power for manifesting, creating and growing when these energies are less available on our planet. Placing such energies into a ritual item, a corresponding crystal, a poppet, or even a bottle will do.

Beltane is also an auspicious time to connect with the Fae as opposed to the spirits of the dead.  The new life energies at Beltane are very attractive to the faeries.  After all, Beltane is a fire holiday representing the fires of passion that lead to new life and life force itself – both delicious energies for the Fae. 

The Fae are often viewed as guardians of nature. They tend to nature’s balance by helping it grow and thrive.  Therefore, the Fae love a bit of merry making during Beltane that leads to new life on Earth! Sexual energy is powerful and charged with life force.

Conversely, fall and winter are associated with the doorway to the afterlife.  It is no mistake that throughout history, humans connect to their ancestors during the fall and Yule seasons as the dark nights grow. The energy during fall and winter is inward and upward – of internal introspection and then release.  The veil between our world and the dead is thin during this time of year for the purpose of releasing the energy and spirits of the dead in preparation for new growth in spring.  

Life and death, light and dark, are two sides of one circular spinning coin. If we do not allow unsupportive energies and any lingering spirits of the dead to be released then nature cannot as strongly bring new life to Earth during springtime.  There is simply not enough room for new spirits to arrive if nature does not undergo its annual death and release during the dark half of the year. 

Likewise, if we do not clear out our own internal spaces when the time is auspicious, then there might not be enough room for energies of new life, inspiration and fresh spirit to be planted and take root within us during the light half of the year. That being said, if you did not take the time to release in autumn, you can similarly harness the energies of the waning parts of the lunar cycle for the same purpose. Nature always provides us with the opportunities to release what is not serving us!    

The Wild Hunt during Samhain and Yule is another example of nature’s attempt to release spirits and heavy energy from the Earth in preparation for the birth of a New Year. The Wind Hunt is most often lead by psychopomp beings such as Odin, Herne, Freya, Holda, Perchta, Berchta, Gwyn ap Nudd, the Huntsman, and more, for the purpose of clearing the Earth of the unquieted dead and “dead energies” so that new spirits can be born in spring.

The wonderful magical practitioners I mentioned earlier, possibly felt the thin veil stronger in the spring because each of them was either connected to plant and herb magic or Fae energies. But I communicate most regularly with the dead and am less attuned to the energies and spirits of gardening, plant magic and the nature side of the Fae. (I am however, very connected to the Fae in their role as psychopomps and takers of earthbound dead.) I believe in the end it is best to be a balance of both and this year I will deepen my relationship with the spirits of the spring.

I hope this article has helped to illuminate the beautiful cycle of incoming and exiting spirits and life and death energies on our planet over the Wheel of the Year. I hope that you have a beautiful and lively Beltane. Enjoy the revelry and company of those you love. And if called, invoke your intentions and envision them being birthed into our world in beautiful ways. Blessed be!

Copyright 2021 Vanessa Hanks, All Rights Reserved.

Becoming Familiar with Spirit Familiars

The witch and her familiar are iconic.  Just think of the witch’s black cat or a raven on a witch’s shoulder that is so ingrained in our popular image of the witch.  This image is so deeply instilled in our collective understanding of witches because it goes straight to the heart of what makes a witch – well, a witch – namely, a connection to the unseen worlds of spirit and magic.  In my own journey as a folk witch, my relationship with my spirit familiars has been the cornerstone of my personal practice.  

But what is a “spirit familiar?”  

 This is not a simple question to answer because there are very different ideas about who and what a witch’s familiar is.  Some consider their beloved pet to be their familiar, others only spirits, and yet others a thought form of the witch.  In this article, I will present my own understanding of spirit familiars based historical accounts, lore, and my own direct experience with familiars.  That being said, if your understanding is different than mine, be guided by your own truth. 

Historically, the term “familiar” is most often associated with the spirit allies of British and Scottish witches and cunning folk.  This does not mean that these important spirit relationships are reserved for those whose ancestry or practice stems from this part of the world.  Spirit allies are universal to those who connect with the Otherworld and engage in magical practices.  For this reason, the witch’s familiar shares common traits with spirit allies from other cultures, including, the shaman’s power animal, the Norse and Germanic ‘fylgia,” and the Irish “fetch.”  

My own definition of a “spirit familiar” is a powerful, shape-shifting astral spirit who a witch fosters a strong, reciprocal relationship with, and who over time, becomes a guide, craft teacher, protector, and lender of power to the witch.  Wow, that is a mouthful!  But to define familiars in this way clearly delineates what a spirit familiar is and why these relationships are so important to magical practitioners.

For the remainder of this article, we will explore my definition of a “spirit familiar.”  We will begin with unraveling the first part of the definition that “spirit familiars are powerful, shape-shifting astral spirits.”  

Familiars are Powerful, Shape-Shifting Astral Spirits:

Emma Wilby, author of “Cunning Folk and Familiar Spirits,” closely connects familiars with a very specific type of astral being – faeries.  She draws this conclusion from historical accounts of familiars found in the confessions of accused British and Scottish witches during the 16th and 17th centuries.  

The fae, like all astral beings, are spirits between this world and the next, but closer to our physical realm than to higher spiritual planes.  In fact, the lower astral realms overlap our world and if we could pierce the veil right where we stand, we would touch the astral planes.  

Astral spirits are a mix of spirit and material substance.  As Wilby puts it, “…the fairy possessed some kind of semi-material or ‘astral’ form putting them somewhere on the spectrum between human flesh and bones and spirit.”  The semi-substance of astral spirits compared to more ethereal beings, gives astral spirits the ability to strongly appear, manifest and shift things in the physical world. They are masters at harnessing and bringing astral energies into the material plane to weave fate, heal, divine the future, create, and more. Through relationships with astral spirits, we too can learn these skills, as well as form strong alliances with beings who can lend their unique power, energy and knowledge to magical workings and spiritual endeavors. 

Because astral bodies are malleable and can change form, spirit familiars have long appeared in history as both animals and humanoids. They are adept shapeshifters who can teach us how to skinwalk in our astral form.   

As stated before, the British/Scottish spirit familiar shares common characteristics with the Norse and Germanic “fylgia.” The fylgia, like the familiar, is an astral being and spirit helper who appears in lore sometimes as a human and other times as an animal.  The fylgia overlaps with another Germanic spirit called the “disir,” or ancestral fate mothers.  The word “fairy” stems from the French word for “fate,” and “fate mothers” – another term for the well-known “fairy godmothers” of European fairy tales.  Familiars and fylgia therefore have in common that they are connected to and may in fact be faeries, along with sharing the traits of being astral beings, shapeshifters and spirit allies to the living.

The fylgia is often referred to as the “one who goes forward.” These spirits can be powerful protectors who travel to the places we will visit and can warn of any dangers ahead

I have personally experienced this type of warning from a spirit familiar when my husband and I went to visit a commercial building that we were considering buying.  I suddenly became very sick as we drove towards the property.  As we got closer, I became sicker and sicker until we decided to cancel our viewing.  As soon as we canceled, the intense sickness in my stomach instantly disappeared.  This was my familiar/fylgia warning me that we were in potential danger or that we would seriously regret buying the property.  My husband and I have never looked back and wondered what if we bought that old 1800s building!  We were grateful for the clear warning to go no further. 

The Irish “fetch,” is another spirit being who shares common traits with the spirit familiar and fylgia. It is thought by some to be the Celtic counterpart to the Norse fylgia.  It is described as appearing to a person soon before their death.  The fetch is “the follower,” because it is with us from birth until we pass; but like the fylgia, the fetch “goes forward” to where the person will ultimately go and guides the soul to the afterlife.  Both the fetch and fylgia are sometimes described as being the astral body of a person, but this confusion speaks to the malleable nature of astral spirits who can appear in one breath as a doppelganger of us, and in another, as a raven or wolf. 

The fetch as a death harbinger might seem counter to the concept of a spirit ally during a witch’s life, but Robin Artisson, author of “An Carrow Gwyn: Sorcery and the Ancient Fayerie Faith,” helps to resolve this contradiction.  Artisson directly claims the fetch as another word for the witch’s familiar and explains that “witches and sorcerers often gain their chief power from identifying with the fetch-follower long before death.”  Artisson views this as a “reversal of the natural flow of the relationship between human and follower.”  After all, the witch has chosen a path very different or “reverse” from most, seeking in life what is beyond death by tapping into the unseen world of energy and spirits.  Artisson believes that the witch-familiar relationship leads to great spiritual transformation for the witch.     

The witch fosters a strong, reciprocal relationship with familiar spirits:

The benefits of being in a strong relationship with powerful and knowledgeable astral spirits are many.  But first and foremost, spirit familiars are teachers to the witch and guides into the Otherworld.  It is in (or from) the Otherworld that the witch can deepen their esoteric, spiritual, occult, intuitive and magical knowledge and abilities. 

Having a close relationship with familiars opens the doorway to the spirit worlds.  Once this door is open, your spirits can teach you the valuable skill of hedge riding.  To ride the hedge, is to travel in astral form into the spirit realms where you can gain valuable insights, guidance, or healing. You can also learn to manifest your will through learning to weave and bring astral energies back to our world.  Our spirit familiars join us in on these journeys (whether seen or unseen) and help lead us to the knowledge we seek.  

It is important to understand that familiars do not do “the bidding” of a witch.  They are not bound in servitude, but are instead close friends and allies.  In fact, you may find that spirit familiars become as dear to you as family.  

Should you seek to enter into a relationship with a familiar, then you must be ready to take on the responsibility of tending to that relationship just as you would any important relationship in your life.  Sacred reciprocity is at the heart of any witch-familiar relationship.  

This means you must be willing to take the time to connect and communicate with your spirit familiars.  Leaving out food or drink offerings, buying a small statue or piece of jewelry to honor a familiar, expressing gratitude, and merging with your familiar for an energy exchange, are also great ways to strengthen your spirit relationships.  These are only a few of many ways to tend to your familiars.  

Roger Horne, in his book “Folk Witchcraft: A Guide to Lore, Land and the Familiar Spirit for the Solitary Practitioner” provides practical and helpful advice for approaching a potential familiar.  He stresses to:

  • Be polite
  • Be Kind
  • Introduce yourself
  • Ask for a name
  • Don’t judge a spirit’s appearance (but do judge their actions)
  • Give an offering
  • Foster a friendship

This sounds like good advice for building a strong foundation for any lasting relationship.  

The witch-familiar relationship is often sealed by a pact or agreement between the witch and her familiar.  The pact sets the intention for a lasting bond – one sealed in trust, dedication, and reciprocity.  For this reason, familiars are connected to the Faerie Bride or Husband of lore, as marriage is a symbol of a long commitment.  Signing one’s name in the “black book” is another example of the pact between witch and familiar.  A witch’s relationship with her familiar is close and intimate – where secrets are told and secrets are kept.  This includes learning the secret magical knowledge of your familiars.  

But a trusting bond must first be fostered, then developed and maintained.  One in which both the witch and the familiar are honored as equals.  Not all magical practitioners may view spirit relationships in this way, but I do and have greatly benefited from taking the time to develop strong, reciprocal relationships with my spirit familiars.  

Spirit familiars are guides, craft teachers, protectors, and lenders of power to the witch:

Spirit familiars are teachers to the magical practitioner.  It is a common theme in Celtic lore for cunning folk to be taken by the faeries for a time and taught their craft. Examples of this are found in Thomas Cowan’s book “Fire in the Head,” on Celtic Shamanism.  He explains that in Celtic lore there are many accounts of cunning folk being taken to the faerie realms for often seven years, after which they are granted certain powers, talents, or healing abilities.  In my opinion, being “taken,” is a way of expressing being initiated by astral spirits into the mysteries of magic, spirits, and the Otherworld.  The path of the witch and shaman has always been one of initiation by spirits.  Many groups replicate the initiatory path of the witch through rites and rituals, but the most important initiations are those that the witch goes on by herself – guided by her spirit familiar(s).  

A well known example of “being taken” in Scottish lore is the story of “Thomas the Rhymer,” based on the historical figure of Thomas Learmont, the Laird of Ercildoune.  Thomas was taken by the Queen of Elphame to the faerie realm for seven years and in return was gifted with true speech (he could not lie), prophecy, and a faerie harp.  

Having apprenticed in Northern European Shamanism, it seems no mistake to me that the Queen of Elphame would take an interest in those who might have magical potential and seek to teach such individuals the mysteries of the Otherworld.  The Faerie Queen is often thought to be another form of the goddess Freya, the Norse and Germanic goddess of magic and witchcraft.  

According to Horne in “Folk Witchcraft,” “The primary reason for a witch to connect with the familiar is to learn….”  The power derived from these relationships can be used to:

  • Heal others (and yourself)
  • Know whether a person will live or die
  • Divine the future
  • Find lost objects or people
  • Communicate with the dead
  • Provide protection and strength
  • Safely astral travel (“hedge riding” or “journeying”)
  • Provide power for magical workings
  • Know what lies ahead in your day and travels
  • And more…

I could write an entire book on the benefits of a witch’s relationship with her familiar spirits.  But instead, I will end with the idea that spirit familiars are craft teachers to the witch. They should be treated with immense respect as they are often ancient, powerful spirits, or connected to ancient beings like the Queen of Elphame (perhaps Freya herself).  Your familiar can teach you healing remedies and how to access and strengthen your intuitive gifts.  Familiars will help you hone and empower your spellcraft and deepen your connection to the unseen worlds.  

I hope you will explore this important and often misunderstood element of witchcraft for yourself! When forming any new relationship with an unknown spirit (or person!), be discerning but also brave and open to the incredible riches of knowledge, healing, empowerment and spirituality that spirit familiar relationships hold for the witch.  I hope you will take the time to become familiar with your spirit familiars!  Blessed be.

Bibliography of Sources:

Artisson, Robin. An Carow Gwyn: Sorcery and the Ancient Fayerie Faith. Black Malkin Press, 2018.

Cowan, Thomas.  Fire in the Head: Shamanism and the Celtic Spirit. Harper One, 1993.

Emerick, Carolyn.  Thomas the Rhymer: Shamanic Tradition in Lowland Scottish Lore.  Carolyn Emerick, 2017. 

Horne, Roger. Folk Witchcraft: A Guide to Lore, Land and the Familiar Spirit for the Solitary Practitioner.  Moon over the Mountain Press, 2019.

Wilby, Emma.  Cunning Folk and Familiar Spirits: Shamanic Visionary Traditions in Early Modern British Witchcraft and Magic.  Sussex Academy Press, 2013.  

Copyright 2021 Vanessa Hanks, All Rights Reserved.

Elemental Aura Clearing

Energy clearing entails a combination of strong focused intentions and channeling high vibrational energies towards your endeavor. It is an important healing practice that is all too easy to forget. Let’s face it, life is busy and clearing your energy field, home or land may be at the bottom of your to-do list – if it even makes the list at all! I am a firm believer in simple and easy practices that any person can do amidst a busy life. The Elemental Aura Clearing we will explore in this post is doubly easy, because the only thing you need to do it is yourself!  While I love sage, candles and crystals as much as any other intuitive, it is empowering to know that I can clear my energy field anytime I choose regardless of whether I have these helpful items on hand. If clearing work becomes too burdensome, most people simply will not do it. But when it’s simple, enjoyable and creative, it is more likely that a person will find little pockets of time. And the benefits of these modest efforts are big and will ripple through your life as you feel lighter, healthier, more at peace, and able to hear your inner self and the Divine.

That being said, there are absolutely times in life when we need a more extensive clearing. Particularly after prolonged periods of high stress, conflict or illness. But for normal day-to-day clearing, simple, focused practices are very effective. And if you do them regularly, then during bouts of more significant stress or challenges, you will be better prepared to energetically weather those storms.

I hope you will enjoy this simple Elemental Aura Clearing technique. The version below is to clear a individual’s energy field but can easily be adapted to clear a home or land. 

Elemental Aura Clearing:

This clearing technique uses the energy of fire, water, air, earth and Spirit. Before beginning your clearing, place a column of Divine protective Golden Light around you that stretches from Source high above to the center of the Earth. Next, begin taking in slow, deep and rhythmic breaths. Now you are ready to begin your elemental aura clearing.

Fire: I always start with fire to burn off any unsupportive, dense or unwell energy from my aura. You can use earthly fire colors, but sometimes I employ a vibrant blue flame. Set the intentions that the fire burns off that which is not supportive or healthy for you in your life. Imagine that the fire engulfs you and burns all of your dross to ash.

Water: Next, envision that a beautiful healing rain comes down and puts out the fire. Watch as the ashes fall to the ground. Allow the rain to surround you and heal you. Enjoy it’s cool embrace.

Air: Next, envision that a strong wind starts to blow. It is not a harsh wind, but instead a wind you find comfortable and peaceful. Watch as the ashes get whisked away by the gusts of winds.

Earth: Envision that you are standing on natural ground. The soil is black and fertile. Feel the coolness of it on the bottoms of your feet. Allow the energy of the soil to be drawn up into you, creating fertile ground to grow your intentions for joy, wellness and harmony – or any other intentions that you wish to manifest within you. Watch in your mind’s eye as beautiful new seedlings and saplings begin to pop up out of the fertile soil inside of you. These are your intentions growing.

Spirit/Sun: Lastly, imagine that the sun comes out. This is no ordinary sun – it is the Light of the Divine. The Light fills you with high vibrational energies of love, healing, peace and wellness. Have the Divine Light feed the plants that have emerged inside of you. Watch them mature into flowers, trees, or any other plant you envision. You are now clear, balanced, and grounded. Thank the Divine, your higher self, the spirits of the elements, and any guides that helped. Slowly open your eyes and continue on your day. 

Copyright 2021 Vanessa Hanks, All Rights Reserved.

Mentally Hallowing the Compass for Hedge Riding

Anyone who knows me, knows I will not be put in a box.  Even though I am a shamanic practitioner, soul rescuer, Reiki Master and spirit medium…I also identify with the archetype of the modern-day folk witch.  The truth is that on my journey to connect with the Divine, my soul, and the web of spirits and energy that is all around us, I have found my way to many spirited paths.  Each path has taught me so much, but I love the magic, history and mystery of folk witchery.  Folk witchery as I practice it, is not based on intricate rituals and rules, but instead on spirit relationships and a strong connection to the land and its spirits.  It draws on ancient folk knowledge left in lore and traditions to guide the modern magical practitioner into the mysteries of the spirit worlds. 

The common thread throughout my magical practice is my connection and relationship with spirits – from my Creator, deities, disir and ancestors, land spirits, guides, my familiar, and more.  Since spirit relationships form the backbone of my craft, I wanted to share one of the ways in which I connect and communicate with my spirits through hedge riding.  

When learning to communicate with spirits, it is beneficial to hone two fundamental skills – mediumship and hedge riding.   In far too simplistic terms, mediumship entails spirits coming to us and merging with our energy field to deliver messages or healing. The merging of spirit with medium involves mediums raising their vibrations while spirits lower theirs so that the two can find a common energetic ground in the middle to communicate.

In “hedge riding” however, we travel to spirits as opposed to spirits traveling to us.  Hedge riding is the ancient practice of shamanic journeying, also called “soul flight” or “spirit walking.”  The image of the witch on her broom or the witch holding a wand, stang or staff, are representations of the shaman’s flight into the spirited realms via the World Tree found in so many cultures.  The World Tree is the axis point – the place connecting all other places in the spirit worlds and in the Universe.  It is “Yggdrasil,” the massive ash tree in ancient Norse, Germanic and Anglo-Saxon cosmology that connects the nine worlds.  Truth be told, witches have always flown, just not in body but in mind and spirit.

Through hedge riding, witches have the opportunity to meet and form relationships with spirit allies and deities who want to work with them and can lend the witch their power, healing energy, and guidance.  If you learn to travel into the spirited realms, you will be taught your craft by your spirits.

To honor the dark half of the year, I want to share a simple but powerful technique for journeying into the spirit worlds called “hallowing the compass” or “laying the compass round.”  Through laying the compass, you are creating the “axis mundi” – the World Tree from which you can travel anywhere in the spirit worlds. 

“Hallowing the compass” originates in “traditional witchcraft.”  I want to be upfront that I am not a traditional witch and what I will share is my own technique for laying the compass inspired by traditional witchcraft but not identical to it.  What I present will be a purely mental endeavor as opposed to employing ritual to create the compass.  My method uses the magic of the mind.   

But before we begin, let’s talk about definitions.  Those who engage in hedge riding are “hedgewitches.”  This term is often used to refer to a witch who practices their craft with plants and herbs, but this was not originally how this term was used.  The terms “hedge riding” and “hedgewitch” originate from the Anglo-Saxon word “hægtesse” which referred to a person who flew over the hedge – a boundary of shrubs at the ends of town that separated civilization from the wild places.  The hedge witch bravely flew over this boundary, leaving the mundane world behind for the spirit worlds.  The hedge witch was an explorer of the truly wild places – the spirited realms of the “Otherworld.”

The evolution of the word “hedgewitch” from a person who engaged in soul flights to a practitioner of plant magic is not as big of a shift as it might first appear.  Across the globe, shamans and witches have always been knowledgeable on the medicinal and magical uses of plants and employed them via teas, flying ointments, burning herbs, and more, to aid in hedge riding.  Nature has always been our most powerful ally and portal to the Otherworld. 

There is sometimes a debate in magical circles over whether “casting a circle” or “laying a compass” is preferable for magical workings, including journeying.  But this debate shows a lack of understanding of these two different practices.  “Casting a circle” creates a protected sacred space that keeps out undesirable energies and spirits.  It is often created through a clockwise motion through intention, or intention with walking the space, calling the quarters, using an anthem or wand, drawing a circle of salt, or simply using your finger!  Clockwise has always been associated with invoking, life, and works done in the physical world.  When casting a circle, we are seeking to invoke protection and bring it into the mundane world around us.

Laying the compass on the other hand, is created counter-clockwise for the purpose of journeying into the Otherworld.  Laying the compass creates a “liminal space” – a threshold outside of space and time from which you can travel into the spirited realms.  A counter-clockwise direction has always been associated with that which is opposite to life, namely spirits and works done in the spirit world.  To put it plainly, we cast a circle for protection but we lay a compass to create a threshold – a doorway – to the Otherworld.  

So, why choose?  I use both when hallowing the compass. 

To start, find a quiet place where you can sit or lay down undisturbed.  Close your eyes and center yourself with deep rhythmic breathing.  When ready, you will begin casting a circle of protection around you.  Remember that this circle must be large enough to place another circle and yourself within it.  

Cast your circle by envisioning that you are drawing a large ring around yourself in a clockwise direction.  Have firm intentions that you are creating a protective barrier that nothing harmful or unsupportive can enter.  Begin drawing your circle directly in front of you in your mind’s eye.  Claim this starting point as “north” whether it is or not, and envision that you are drawing a large ring around yourself three times with your mind.  End back at the north.  Invite any protective spirit allies you want present during your journey into your circle.  Once you feel you have created a sacred space, you are ready to lay your compass.  

You will start laying the compass directly ahead of you in your mind’s eye, just as you did when casting your circle.  This time, you will draw a ring in a counter-clockwise direction around yourself three times within the circle you cast.  This will result in a circle inside of a circle.  

You should begin to feel the energy of your space change as you create the opening to the Otherworld.  You may begin to feel lighter or ungrounded while the energy around you gets thicker and more alive.  The energy may feel like it is buzzing and you may feel that you are already further away from the physical world.  How liminal space feels is personal but you should feel the energy shift when you create liminal space.

After the inner ring is laid, envision that you are standing in the center of the compass ring.  Through intention, lay an electric blue line going from north and south.  Do the same to create the east to west line of the compass.  The electric blue energy comes from directly inside of your core and connects you to the spirited side of the place you are in. You should now be inside of a circle with two lines crossed, just like a medicine wheel.  Lastly, envision an electric blue line going through you in an upward and downward direction.  This up to down line connects you from Source to the center of the Earth or Universe.  It should pass through you, as well as the center of the compass where north, south, east and west meet.  You have now fully laid your compass and created the axis mundi.  After all, the World Tree was always you.  

The axis mundi is the place that leads to all other places in the Universe as we know.  You have created the threshold from which you can journey into the spirit worlds to any place and any time, and to every spirited place outside of space and time.  But the other purpose for laying the compass was to create a powerful anchor while you journey.  

By using the compass you are not only creating the doorway to the spirit realms, you are creating an anchor to the place where your body resides.  The compass connects you to the land and ensures that you return to the place where your journey began and to your physical body. To solidify this anchor, tie a red cord that extends from your core (around your belly button/stomach area) to the center of the compass where all the points meet.  As you tie your cord, you can employ a bit of knot magic and use this as an opportunity to set your intentions for your journey.  For instance, you can intend to journey to the land of the dead to speak with ancestors, to the middle world to explore the energy of your home and land, or journey to meet your guiding spirits for advice.  Tie as many knots as you feel called to firmly set your intentions.    

At this point, you are ready to begin your journey into the spirit worlds.  It is time to take flight by moving outward from your compass through intention and following where your soul leads you.  Trust that your soul knows its way.  For fun, you can envision that the up to down blue line tilts forward and becomes your broom that you can ride while your red cord is still tied to the center of the compass.  Allow your hedge ride to unfold in its own way.  Pay attention to not only visions, but feelings, thoughts, sounds, smells and more.  Enjoy your journey and feel safe, as you have taken the time to create a protected sacred space, a compass to guide you, and an anchor to ensure your safe return home.

When you are done with your journey, simply come back to the compass through intention and envision that the blue lines of energy making the directions and your red cord are absorbed back into you.  Undo the ring of your compass by erasing it mentally in a clockwise direction three times, returning you to this world.  You can also envision that you are taking a broom and sweeping the compass away. Do the same to close your circle through erasing it in your mind widdershins three times.  With intention state the compass and portal to the spirit worlds is now closed and thank your ally spirits for their assistance.  Set the intention that all spirits are released with gratitude. Your hedge ride is officially done!  But be sure to ground before returning to your normal day.  

I hope you have enjoyed this simple mental technique for hallowing the compass. Opening yourself to the spirit worlds is the key to deepening your understanding of your journey through life and beyond and grants you access to the wise and ancient spirits who want to be a part of your healing, growth, magical endeavors, and empowerment.  They will teach you how to co-create in the Otherworld to shifting things in the mundane world – magic! 

I wish you many magical and spirited travels. Blessed be to you all!

Copyright 2021 Vanessa Hanks, All Rights Reserved.

Imbolc Despacho Ceremony

I am part of a wonderful circle of seasoned mediums, healers and shamanic practitioners. Each member of the group has at least 7 years of experience and some 30 years plus! Each time the group meets, a different member leads the circle so that we all benefit from the unique experience of each member. This past Friday, I led our circle through an explanation of Imbolc, a discussion on land spirits, an invocation to Brigid, two meditations, and a despacho ceremony.

For more information on Imbolc, See: https://vanessahanks.com/2020/01/25/clearing-blessing-land-on-imbolc-ahead-of-sowing-seeds-for-the-year/

Imbolc is a Celtic holiday, and a “despacho”… well, is not Celtic. So if you are purist or traditionalist, this may be a “no, no,” but I love weaving traditions with common threads across cultural boundaries. I am a European shamanic practitioner and my heart is in European traditions and practices, but I also learn from other shamanic paradigms as well. Years ago, I fell in love with the “despacho” ceremonies of the Andean shamans. It is a beautiful way to express “sacred reciprocity” – offering and asking, giving and receiving.

Below are pictures from the group despacho we co-created this past Friday with offerings to Mother Earth, Brigid, and our land and home spirits. We asked for clearing, abundance, joy, harmony, good health, and more to flourish on this Imbolc and through the reminder of the year.

As a Home & Hearth Healer, I believe that our sacred spaces of land and home must be tended to in order to keep them healthy, balanced and high vibrational. When we tend to the energy and spirits of our land and home, our “spirit ecosystem,” we create fertile ground for our energetic seeds to manifest and wellness to grow.

I hope you enjoy the pictures of our despacho ceremony below. If you are interested in learning how to create a simple despacho, the book “Living Sacred Ceremony” by Natalia Karoway is a good resource. We chose to burn our despacho, as opposed to bury it or send it down running water, to release our intentions, prayers and offerings to the Universe and Spirit. It seemed appropriate for the Celtic fire festival Imbolc! If you have time, look closely at the fire pictures – they contains spirit messages for the group. Can you see the “7” and Inguz rune? Fire scrying your offerings can provide meaningful guidance for the upcoming spring!

Clearing & Blessing Land on Imbolc Ahead of Sowing Seeds for the Year

For those who follow the Wheel of the Year, Imbolc is approaching!  Imbolc is the half-way point between the Winter Solstice and the Spring Equinox.  It is celebrated on February 1 or 2nd. Historically, this Celtic festival marked the approach of spring in Ireland, Scotland and the Isle of Man.  The name “Imbolc” means “in the belly,” and ewe’s milk, both images of pregnancy and new life. During the cold months of January and February, food was scarce in times past and the risk of starvation very real for those living on the British Isles.  Imbolc was a reminder that hidden in the belly of the Earth was new life. This festival provided assurances that the cold of winter would soon give way to spring.

Imbolc was (and is) a time for preparing the land to be sown with new seeds.  For this reason, water from holy wells was poured on land, as was milk, to bless the land ahead of it being sown.  Imbolc is also associated with hearth and home. It is where the idea of “spring cleaning” originates.

The Celtic Goddess Brigid, a powerful triple goddess, was honored on Imbolc, as was St. Bridget– her Christian form.  Brigid is associated with fertility, the protection of hearth and land, and is a goddess of poetry and craft. On Imbolc, food and drink were left for her as an offering. 

The festival of Imbolc is also associated with another goddess – Cailleach – the goddess of winter and weather.  It was believed that on Imbolc, Cailleach would venture out to collect firewood for the remainder of winter. If the day was sunny and pleasant, she would extend winter longer and use her firewood; but if the weather was bad, she would remain asleep through Imbolc and spring would soon come.  If this reminds you of Groundhog Day on February 2nd – you would be correct!  The story about Cailleach is where we get this tradition. 

This Imbolc, I plan to prepare my land for sowing my personal seeds for the year through performing a land blessing and healing.  It is easy to forget that our home and land needs to be energetically clear and well for the seeds of our personal intentions to have a nurturing and healthy place to grow and thrive.  Our home and land are sacred spaces where we think, laugh, rest, play and dream our lives into existence! It is much harder to grow our intentions into strong vibrant realities if our home or land is heavy with unsupportive energy, conflict, or unhealthy dynamics that do not feed and support us.  While we cannot control everything and everyone – we can take time to clear our land of any energetic gunk so that the ground is fertile for new growth. 

Imbolc is a perfect time to do this – before we get too far into our year! 

But how do we energetically prepare and bless our land so that it germinates our energetic seeds of harmony, good health, a happy home, and personal fulfillment?  Well, like so many things in the intuitive and energetic world – it is best to do as you feel called. But that being said, before deciding what you are called to do – ask your land and home what it wants and needs to be a high vibrational and harmonious place for all who reside there – human, plant, animal and spirit – to thrive.  Then do what your home or land asks – as well as what your intuition calls you to do 

In all shamanic cultures there is a belief in “sacred reciprocity.”  To the Andean shamans it is “ayni” and in the Northern European Shamanic tradition it is a “gift for a gift.”  Our land and home gives to us daily, as does Mother Earth, and asking what it needs (and then doing what is asked) is a way to show gratitude, love and respect for your home, land and Gaia.  It is just good manners! If we support and tend to our land and home – it will support and tend to us. Our best energetic home protectors (along with our ancestors), are our land and home spirits!  If we feed them – they will protect our homes from unsavory energies and spirits.

My land was very specific as to what it wanted this year.  My land spirits asked that I boil bundles of fresh rosemary in water and pour it on my land in different locations.  This is to clear and heal the land, and to bless the land and spirits on it for the year ahead. I also plan to do a “spring cleaning” with strong intentions for clearing out old stagnant energies that have accumulated over the cold winter months; and to re-assert my commitment to remembering my land spirits through leaving offerings throughout the year.  Life gets busy but I really have no excuse not to leave out a bit of bread, a small bowl of milk or mead, or a cut up apple with honey. It is not grandiose acts that are required – only small, sincere offerings of love and gratitude!  

So, Happy Imbolc to all! And if called, please leave a comment on how you blessed and honored your land and home this Imbolc. 

Copyright 2021 Vanessa Hanks, All Rights Reserved.

Separating the Wheat from the Chaff Ritual for Lammas

                This is my second post on the upcoming Lammas holiday.  My first post was on creating Purposeful Poppets for a New Moon Lammas (or nearly new moon!).  Doing a craft for Lammas is a great way of honoring Lugh, the Craftsman God of the Celts, and Gaia who has been creating her harvest for us.  As I contemplated the spiritual aspects of entered the grain harvest, an idea emerged to do a “Separating the Wheat from the Chaff Ritual.”  I am always up for an opportunity to reflect on what is serving me in my life – and what is not.  What am I giving my energy to that is not allowing my fullest harvest to come into fruition?  

                Separating the wheat from the chaff is the process of removing the husk, called the “chaff,” from around the wheat seed.  When a person says they are “separating the wheat from the chaff” it means that they are keeping only what is of value.

                On this Lammas, try “separating the wheat from the chaff” in your internal spaces (mind and emotions) and in your life.  What are you giving value to that really needs to be released?  We are all far too busy to give our limited energy to things that do not support us, or worse, detract from our joy and peace. 

                For me, this summer has been all about becoming clearer on what is truly on my path and what is not.  And what am I feeding in my life with my thoughts, feelings, time and actions that is not feeding me.

                I am a strong believer in the shamanic concept of sacred reciprocity.  If I give, then I should receive; and if I receive, then I should also give.  As Odin wisely stated, “a gift for a gift.”   If you give your time and emotions to an endeavor, but it leaves you empty or feeling badly – that is not a gift for a gift.  If you are always the one to reach out to a friend, but they do not reach out to you – that is not a gift for a gift.  You can begin to see why sacred reciprocity is such an important concept to our holistic wellbeing. 

                Take a little time this Lammas and think about what you value in your life and what truly represents who you are.  Think about what is “not you,” or is not feeding you, that needs to be released.  Try the simple ritual below for setting your intentions that what is truly you and on your path grows, and what no longer serves you is released to the Universe.  Feel lighter and empowered by your choice to be in sacred reciprocity with your own beautiful soul who is always giving but not always being heard or honored. This ritual can help you gain clarity as to what truly represents “you” so that you can step closer to living in alignment with your sacred soul.

Separating the Wheat from the Chaff Ritual

You will need:

·         Paper & pen

·         Grain seeds – It does not need to be wheat seeds if they are hard to come by.  I plan to use oats as they are readily in my house.  Dried corn kernels would work as well. 

·         A candle

·         Two containers – such as two small mason jars.

·         Herbs of abundance like cinnamon, allspice, cloves, ginger

·         Fire or access to an outdoor space

            Step 1:  Create sacred space in your chosen way.  I do it through visualization, intention setting and sacred smoke.  You can use any method that resonates with you such as  casting a circle with salt or other technique.

            Step 2: Light the candle and call in the Divine, Gods and Goddesses you work with or you are seeking to assist you in this ritual (Lugh for instance – after all, this is his holiday) and your ally spirits – including your own soul!

            Step 3:  Set intentions that the true callings of your heart, and what is truly representative of you in your life, be revealed, as well as what is no longer serving you and is taking energy from you.  Ask the spirits you called in for guidance and clarity on this topic.

            Step 4:  Take pen and paper and create two lists – one with aspects of your life that are on your path and are “you,” and one that lists things taking your energy and not serving you.  You can simply label the lists: “You” and “Not You.”

            Step 5:  Take a grain seed (or a small handful of seeds) and hold it in your hands.  Close your eyes or focus on the candle and with seed in hand, think about the first item on your list that is “You.”  Mentally, and with love, honor that aspect of your life.  Thank it and ask that it continues to grow.  If it is a person, thank their spirit and ask that the relationship grow in healthy and abundant ways. 

            Step 6:  Designate one of the two jars for the things that are “You” and the other jar for what needs to be released at this time (i.e., Not You).  After holding the seed (or small handful of seeds) for each aspect of your life you wish to honor and grow, place that seed in “You” jar. 

            Step 7:  After you finish with the “You” list, work on the “Not you” list.  Follow the same process, but this time; intend that the aspects of your life that are “Not You” be released with love.  Thank what is “Not You” for helping you to become clearer as to  what is you and for its lessons. Place the seed (or small handful of seeds) for each item on the “Not You” list into the “Not You” jar. 

            Step 8:  Take the “You” jar and add your abundance herbs to it.  Set intentions that the wonderful things you have put into the jar grow in your life.  Set the jar aside in your home for all long as you feel called to.  When ready to release the “You” jar seeds, take them outside and throw them into the air with intentions of gratitude and a continued presence in your life – if that is what you seek.

            Step 9: Take the “Not You” jar and throw the contents into a fire to burn and be released from your life.  If you do not have access to fire, then go outside and throw the contents into the air with strong focused intentions that these aspects of your life be released. You can imagine the seeds burning and turning to ash which the winds will carry away from you.

Let me know how the ritual works for you and whether you experience shifts from doing it. And remember to have some fun this Lammas! This is the start of the harvest season, a time of merriment and enjoying the fruits if your labor!

            Happy Lammas!  Blessed Be! 

Copyright 2021 Vanessa Hanks, All Rights Reserved.